Roy CooperDemocrat
Assumed office January 1, 2017
Currently serving first term, which will end January 2021; two consecutive term limit

Groups connected to the governor:
Moving NC Forward (MNCF)

 

Moving NC Forward (MNCF)

No public website
Type of group: Shadow governance
Type of support: Overall agenda
Tax status: 501(c)(4)
Active: Dec. 28, 2016 – present[1]

Stated mission: “The organization will promote the social welfare by advocating for policies that advance economic growth, stronger schools, tolerance, and fair and legal electoral districts.”[2]

Ties to the governor: MNCF shares an address, suite number, and phone number with Nexus Strategies, a local political campaign and government relations firm that ran Gov. Cooper’s 2016 election campaign, and both organizations also share an address and phone number with Gov. Cooper’s campaign committee, Cooper for North Carolina. [3] The New York Times described Nexus Strategies co-founder Morgan Jackson as Gov. Cooper’s “chief strategist.”[4] Scott Falmlen, Nexus Strategies’ other co-founder, was treasurer of Gov. Cooper’s campaign committee during Gov. Cooper’s gubernatorial campaign through January 2017 and is currently the “custodian of books” for the campaign committee.[5] Falmlen was on Gov. Cooper’s inaugural committee.[6] Gov. Cooper paid Nexus Strategies hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of his gubernatorial campaign.[7] When a WRAL reporter asked Gov. Cooper’s office about MNCF, a spokeswoman said she “did not know about the group and referred questions to Cooper’s campaign consultants at Nexus Strategies.”[8] When Nexus Strategies was contacted, the WRAL reporter was then referred to MNCF President Tom Hendrickson.[9] Hendrickson is a former state Democratic Party chairman, and he and MNCF’s other board members are longtime Democratic Party contributors.[10]  According to the News & Observer, Hendrickson stated that MNCF “was not formed to support Cooper’s political ambitions.”[11]  Nevertheless, the finance director for Gov. Cooper’s 2016 campaign, Kate Connelly, is also a member of MNCF’s fundraising committee.[12]

Activities: Little is known about MNCF, but the group held a two-day event in March 2017 that included a reception with Gov. Cooper as well as “policy talks” that were “led by special guests from the Governor’s Leadership Team.”[13] Donations to attend the event ranged from $10,000 to $100,000.[14] MNCF held another two-day event in June 2017 that was also attended by Gov. Cooper and “key members of his administration,” including his health and human services secretary, transportation secretary, and state budget director. [15] While the invitation to the event did not list donation amounts, it did provide an address to mail contributions to, and noted that those contributions would not be tax-deductible.[16] WRAL reported that Gov. Cooper was listed as the headliner for the gathering.[17] According to Gov. Cooper’s spokesperson, he was only speaking at a lunch and was not involved in any fundraising efforts.[18]  Hendrickson said that MNCF plans to hold three meetings each year.[19]

Donor disclosure and revenue: MNCF does not publicly disclose its donors. When asked if MNCF would be releasing donor information, Hendrickson said the prospect had not been discussed but that MNCF would “fully comply with the law.”[20] Paperwork filed with North Carolina’s secretary of state reveals that MNCF raised $370,000 in its fiscal year ending 6/30/2017. Kate Connelly, Gov. Cooper’s finance director for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, reported that she had raised $493,000 for MNCF from March – November 2017.[21]

 

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[1] “Business Registration Search: Moving NC Forward,” State of North Carolina, Office of the Secretary of State. (Accessed January 24, 2018), see https://www.sosnc.gov/search/index/corp

[2] “Charities Search, Solicitation License Application: Moving NC Forward,” State of North Carolina, Office of the Secretary of State, Dec. 27, 2016 (Accessed January 24, 2018), see https://www.sosnc.gov/online_services/search/by_title/_charities

[3] “Nexus Strategies,” Nexus Strategieshttp://www.nexusstrategies.com/ (Accessed January 24, 2018.); “Business Registration Search: Moving NC Forward,” State of North Carolina, Office of the Secretary of State, (Accessed January 24, 2018); John Frank, “Looking Ahead to 2016, McCrory and Cooper are Tied in Campaign Cash,” News & Observer, Sept 2, 2014, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article10047731.html; “Disclosure Report Cover: Cooper for North Carolina,” State of North Carolina, North Carolina State Board of Elections, (Accessed February 20, 2018). http://cf.ncsbe.gov/CFOrgLkup/ViewDocumentImage?DID=213782

[4] Jason Zengerle, “Is North Carolina the Future of American Politics?,” The New York Times Magazine, Jun. 20, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/magazine/is-north-carolina-the-future-of-american-politics.html; “About Us,” Nexus Strategies. Accessed January 24, 2018. http://www.nexusstrategies.com/about-us. (Accessed January 24, 2018.)

[5] “Statement of Organization – Candidate Committee: Cooper for North Carolina,” State of North Carolina, North Carolina State Board of Elections. (Accessed February 20, 2018), see http://cf.ncsbe.gov/CFOrgLkup/ViewDocumentImage?DID=189943; “Disclosure Report Cover: Cooper for North Carolina,” State of North Carolina, North Carolina State Board of Elections. (Accessed February 20, 2018), see http://cf.ncsbe.gov/CFOrgLkup/ViewDocumentImage?DID=205887; “Certification of Treasurer: Cooper for North Carolina,” State of North Carolina, North Carolina State Board of Elections. (Accessed February 20, 2018), see http://cf.ncsbe.gov/CFOrgLkup/ViewDocumentImage?DID=207543; “Statement of Organization – Candidate Committee: Cooper for North Carolina,” State of North Carolina, North Carolina State Board of Elections. (Accessed February 20, 2018), see http://cf.ncsbe.gov/CFOrgLkup/ViewDocumentImage?DID=207416

[6] “Governor’s inauguration moves indoors,” WRAL, Jan. 4, 2017, http://www.wral.com/governor-s-inauguration-moves-indoors/16400731/

[7] Michael Gebelein, “Outside Campaign Money Raising Stakes in NC Governor’s Race,” Carolina Public Press, Oct. 6, 2016, https://www.carolinapublicpress.org/25978/campaign-money-raises-stakes-governor/.

[8] Mark Binker, “New Dark Money Group Raising Big Dollars on Promise of Access to Cooper and His Staff,” WRAL, Mar. 18, 2017, http://www.wral.com/new-dark-money-group-raising-big-dollars-on-promise-of-access-to-cooper/16590828/.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Craig Jarvis, “’Social Welfare’ Group Raising Money Off Talks by Cooper and his Cabinet,” News & Observer, Jun. 9, 2017, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article155368184.html.

[12] Travis Fain, “Cooper to attend dark money group’s year-end event,” WRAL, Nov. 14, 2017, http://www.wral.com/cooper-to-attend-dark-money-group-s-year-end-event/17114225/; “Charitable Solicitation Licensing: Moving North Carolina Forward,” State of North Carolina, Office of the Secretary of State. (Accessed February 20, 2018), see “Financial Information 2016” when searching for “Moving NC Forward” in the North Carolina Charities & Fundraisers database at https://www.sosnc.gov/online_services/search/Charities_Results

[13] Binker, WRAL, Mar. 18, 2017.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Jarvis, News & Observer, Jun. 9, 2017.

[16] Travis Fain, “Cooper, Stein Attend Annual Meeting for Dark Money Group,” WRAL, June 20, 2017, http://www.wral.com/cooper-stein-attend-annual-meeting-for-dark-money-group/16795251/.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] “Charities Search, Budget. Moving NC Forward,” State of North Carolina, Office of the Secretary of State. https://www.sosnc.gov/online_services/search/by_title/_charities (Accessed February 9, 2017).